In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
Our opening verses of Genesis give us the beginning of God’s ordered creation, starting with the creation of light. If we were to continue reading through the 1st chapter, we’d hear how all of the ordered creation came about. Well, somewhere in that creation God created the dog, the monkey, and the cow. This morning’s reading reminds me of the conversations God may have had with those 3 creatures, along with man, and the subsequent wisdom that came from them. Told a little differently, on the first day, God created the dog and said, “Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years.” The dog responded, “That’s a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I’ll give you back the other ten?” So God agreed with the dog. On the second day, God created the monkey and said, “Entertain people. Do tricks and make them laugh. For this, I’ll give you a twenty-year life span.” The monkey responded, “Monkey tricks for twenty years?! That’s a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the dog did?” And God agreed with the monkey. On the third day, God created the cow and said, “You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves, and give milk to support the farmer’s family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years.” The cow responded, “That’s kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I’ll give back the other forty?” And again God agreed. On the fourth day, God created man and said, “Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I’ll give you twenty years.” But the man complained, “Only twenty years?! Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?” “Okay,” said God, “You asked for it.” So that is why for the first twenty years we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years, we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years, we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.
Who knew the order of our lives was determined by the deals God made with a dog, a monkey, and a cow so long ago?! I guess I’m in the “cow phase” of my life…can’t wait to get to the “dog phase” of my life, just bark, bark, barking at anyone who walks by! I suppose my reserved nature will keep me from being too loud of a barker. That, and a general love for and patience with people! Only the unloving and impatient tend to bark the loudest. But it’s interesting to consider the possible deals God may have made when He was creating the ordered world.
This week we’re beginning the last of our summer sermon series by exploring the wisdom of our creeds. Our three primary creeds, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed, are somewhat odd parts of our faith tradition. They are found nowhere in Scripture but we regularly use them in our worship life together. They are helpful summaries of what we believe about our Triune God. Each of them is broken into three sections, each section focusing on a separate “part” of the Triune God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (There I go, already committed the heresy of “partialism!”) The concept of the Triune God is a church-made concept; it’s nowhere in Scripture. Leaders in the early church came up with it to connect the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit found in Scripture, not to mention add a relational quality to God. The creeds themselves provide order to our understanding of who God is and even though they aren’t found in Scripture unlike other parts of our worship like the Lord’s Prayer, they are helpful in providing structure to our faith life. Our passage from Genesis reveals the nature of our creating Father. Next week we’ll look at the 1st chapter of John as it reveals the nature of our redeeming Son and then explore the wisdom of Acts 2 as it reveals the nature of our sanctifying Holy Spirit. So let’s dive into God the Father…
The creation narrative of Genesis reveals a few important qualities of our creating Father. First, our Father is a God of order. He wants there to be order in his created universe. Sure, He created darkness and the formless void and the waters but He wasn’t satisfied with leaving them unchecked. Chaos serves a purpose of disrupting and destabilizing. Some situations need disruption and destabilization for growth to occur but certainly not all situations. Some situations encourage growth without disruption or destabilization. God understands this so to counterbalance the destabilizing forces of chaos, He brought order into the world. He began by creating light, a perfect counterpart to darkness. Order was established in an otherwise disordered situation. Our Father is a God of order.
Now then, our Father is also a satisfiable God. Just like our earthly fathers, our heavenly Father can be pleased by what we say or do. Now don’t confuse this with works righteousness. We are not made righteous by what we say or do. Only our belief and trust in Jesus makes us righteous. But we can make our God happy by what we say or do. In our reading for this morning, we heard that “God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good.” If we were to continue reading through the creation narrative, we’d repeatedly hear God see the goodness of his creation. God regards his creation as good. Now I realize that that expression, “good,” has multiple meanings but they’re all positive, life-encouraging meanings. There is goodness in order and God is pleased with order.
Our God is a creating God, both of order and disorder, but He is especially pleased with his ordered creation. Why? Because He so loves life and the life that springs forth from order. Our God loves us so very much! It’s no wonder the psalmist cries out, “I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (27:13) God’s goodness is best revealed in life and the living. Our God is a good and generous God. We hear elsewhere in the psalms, “O taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him.” (34:8) Like our earthly fathers, our God is not only a creator but also a refuge. As the prophet Nahum tells us, “The Lord is good, a stronghold on a day of trouble; he protects those who take refuge in him.” (1:7)
The creeds help us reflect on our Triune God. Our creating, good Father is worthy of our reflection and gratitude. Let us give thanks for the order and life He so graciously gives to us. Thanks be to God!
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.